In the railway budget presented to parliament Tuesday, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda unveiled many new measures to make Indian Railways, which runs about 20,000 trains and ferries 23 million passengers daily, a modern, efficient and commercially viable utility.
Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda. Photo: AFP
He presented proposals, subject to parliamentary approval, for introduction of 58 new trains, paperless office in five years, digital reservation charts, wi-fi in select stations and trains, wake-up call for passengers, separate freight terminals, office-on-wheels for business travellers, more money for cleanliness and safety, food courts at stations, expansion of rail tourism and better connectivity in hilly areas and northeastern states.
Here are the highlights:
64 new electric multiple unit (EMUs) in Mumbai to ease rail traffic
Five Jan Sadharan trains, five premium trains and six AC express trains to be introduced
Run of 11 trains to be extended
Special festival trains to continue
Open mind to correct shortcomings
Twenty three railway projects underway in the northeast; Rs.5,116 crore allocated for this in 2014-15 - a jump of 54 percent from the previous fiscal
Dedicated freight corridor projects to be closely monitored
Banihal-Katra link in Jammu and Kashmir to be taken up; in the interim, a bus system has been introduced to enable travel to Srinagar on a single ticket
Wi-Fi at select stations and on some trains
Paperless railway offices in five years
Diamond quadrilateral to be launched for high-speed trains; Rs.100 crore allocated for taking project forward
Trains on select routes to be speeded up to 160-200 km per hour
Ticketing to be further modernised to issue 7,200 tickets per minute
Land records need to be digitised for better utilisation; PPP mode to be explored for better management and revenue
Innovation Incubation Centre to be set up
4,000 women constables recruited in RPF to make travel in women's coaches safer
Pre-cooked ready-to-eat meals to be introduced
Food courts to be introduced at major stations to provide regional flavour; pilot project on New Delhi-Amritsar and New Delhi-Jammu Tawi routes
Forty percent increase in expenditure on cleanliness; CCTVs to monitor cleanliness at stations
Special train on teachings of Swami Vivekananda
Receipts in 2014-15 estimated at Rs.164,374 crore, expenditure at Rs.149,176 crore
Fare revision will bring in Rs.8,000 crore; need another Rs.9,000 crore for golden quadrilateral project
Backbone of supply chain of defence establishment
Carry one billion tonnes of freight every year
Decline in traffic growth in 2013-14
Would require Rs.5 lakh crores in 10 years for modernisation
Receipts in 2013-14 were Rs.139,550 crore; expenditure was Rs.130,321 crore
Spend 94 paise of every rupee earned, leaving a surplus of only 6 paise
With 12,500 trains, railways move 23 million passengers every day; equivalent to moving Australia's population
Target to become largest freight carrier in the world
New Delhi: Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda Tuesday listed four new ways to mobilise resources to upgrade and expand projects in his maiden budget.
According to Gowda, the cash-strapped railways will mobilise resources for infrastructure creation and upgradation through the funds of the railways' state-run public sector companies (PSUs).
The minister further said that large private investments, including foreign funds, will be attracted into the sector.
The fund inflows for modernisation of railway infrastructure will also be generated through promoting public-private partnership (PPP) models.
The minister added that a planned tax holiday scheme which will incentivise investments for railways projects that have a long gestation period will also be promoted.
Currently, the Indian Railways is facing a huge cash crunch of Rs.26,000 crore amidst a decline in growth in passenger earnings.
In the interim budget, Mallikarjun Kharge, the then railway minister, had set a revenue target of Rs.1.65 lakh crore that included Rs.1.06 lakh crore from goods tariffs and Rs.45,255 crore from passenger fares and the balance from other sources.
Recently, the new government increased railway passenger fares by 14.2 percent and freight carriage charges by 6.5 percent. However, it will need more funds from international lenders to finance long gestation projects.